Date: Friday 22nd-Monday 25th February 2008
Location: St. John's. Antigua and Barbuda
Promotions: Stanford 20/20
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Stanford Memoirs ... 365 beaches, sunny weather and a young star studded team that would bring home the Stanford 20/20 Cup and restore some sense of pride to the West Indian island of Trinidad & Tobago. This was the hope and dream at the start of the Tournament when we purchased our airfare way back in October. I must admit that it was difficult gathering ten people to make this trip with me but for the ten who eventually made it, they experienced an event of a lifetime!
Day 1 (Friday):
Friday morning we were all at the airport at 5am to board the LIAT flight departing at 6:45am. Ironically the flight left on time and we were soon flying over the Grenadines on our way to the Sun Island. Within 2 hours we were checked into the hotel bordering the grounds as well as the airport (how convenient could this be). We were greeted with chants of Who Will Rise, Who will Rise by the 50+ Trini's who were already there from the night before. As the designated tour guide (because I was here last year for the ICC World Cup matches) I quickly got the crew to check in and throw on their bathing apparel. We started off by hitting the Sticky Wicket Museum on Stanford Grounds then quickly made our way to the Capital to view the magnificent St. Johns Cathedral. After a quick bite to eat (bull foot soup and goat water were on the menu but I stuck to my KFC) we made our way to Fig Tree Drive where we spent 2 hours gliding through tree tops in an intricate course known as the Rainforest Canopy tour (remember to ask for the CARICOM rate if you ever decide to try it out). You definitely needed stomach to be strapped up and then to glide across chasms over 100ft deep wearing only a helmet and gloves! Our next stop was Darkwood Bay which I personally rate as the #2 beach Ive been to in the Caribbean (#1 being Gran Anse, Grenada). In a nutshell this beach can be described as having extremely white sand with the clearest blue water gracing its shores. We then made a quick pitstop into Jolly Harbour to wish our team good luck. Our next stop took us to an area called Five Islands where we were fortunate enough to sneak in a dip into Hawksbill Resort and bask in their dark blue waters.
Game time!!! Trinidad vs. Barbados. Who Will Rise?? Well, described by many as the most nail-biting game in the tournament up to that point it was indeed a thriller! Trinidad batted first and made 120 runs (considered not much) and the entire team got bowled out which was somewhat embarrassing. Although Rupee gave a great half-time performance, by the time Barbados came out to bat our players were psychologically psyched up by the massive crowd support and they delivered a breath taking performance despite NUMEROUS drop catches by some of our top players at a time when every run counted.
Celebration time!!! The place to be was Rush. We reached there after midnight and the crowd was slammin with a good mixture of locals, Bajans and Trinis. Drinks were reasonable and the vibes was nice...
Day 2 (Saturday):
Breakfast time!! No doubles to be found for miles!! With growling stomachs we pulled into a Texaco gas station, got some snacks and drinks and were off to the extreme right hand side of the island to Pineapple Beach or Long Bay as it is also known. On our way we stopped to view the newly constructed Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium which is the ONLY cricket grounds in the Caribbean to contain a swimming pool. We then moved along to Bettys Hope which is the ONLY re-constructed windmill on the island and perhaps the Caribbean. I wasnt impressed last year when I visited Pineapple beach but to my surprise the water this time of year was totally clear and out of our jeep and into the water we went. From an underwater snake (not eel), to sea urchins to various corals and fishes, this beach had it all. Luckily there was a lovely restaurant in the vicinity and we were able to satisfy our hunger. Next stop was the World Famous Half Moon Bay which in recent years was rated as the #1 Beach in the world by the Discovery Channel. So over the hills we went and into the countryside until we came down the mountainside onto this majestic blue bay. In case you are wondering, it is called Half Moon Bay because it is engulfed by two peninsulas which give it its half moon shape. The waters were rough but it was hard to resist so a few of the brave ones joined me for a 30 minute swim before we headed back to the hotel.
Game Time!!! Jamaica vs. Guyana. Who Will Rise?? Guyana being one of the main favourites and also the returning Champions seemed to be in control for the first five to ten overs taking numerous wickets and restricting Jamaicas run rate. It only took one over for all this to change and when the man they called Danza Hyatt stepped up his game it was all over for Guyana, or so we thought! Jamaica eventually ended up on 143 runs and had immense crowd support. Apparently the locals dont really appreciate having too many Guyanese in their homeland selling and doing trade. By the 13th over everyone thought it was all over for Guyana until Royston Grandon splashed two sixes in one over and dropped the run rate from 11 runs an over to roughly 8 runs an over within the two overs that followed. We had a game on!! Sixes and fours followed until the last over when only twelve runs were required. One can only imagine the pandemonium!! Things could have turned ugly for Jamaica but they kept their cool and managed to secure a victory in the last ball of the over.
Celebration time!!! I went to my room all hyped and ready to head to a private after-party that we were invited to and guess what? I fell asleep waking up at 2am in the morning only to realize that half our crew went to the party that featured Beenie Man and other celebrities.
Day 3 (Sunday):
FINALS!!! Who will Rise? was the chant coming from the courtyard. Already our Trini supporters were busy drinking rum and getting themselves prepared for later. I had a different agenda. No beach today, just a drive to one of the highest points on the island known as Shirley Heights and a cruise through Nelsons Dockyard and English Harbour was the plan. With this accomplished we headed back to our apartments for 3pm and by 5pm we were at the grounds ready for the match which stated a little after 7pm. It was Carnival in Antigua!! Guyanese, Bajans, Antiguans, Jamaicans and Trinis in abundance!! One may ask why reach for 5pm but the answer was simple....FOOD!! We were in the Sticky Wicket pavilion which entailed unlimited food included in the ticket cost. Shrimp, exotic fish, various meats, salads and wonderful desserts were on the menu not to mention you got to have a drink with Allen Stanford himself.
match summary was simple:
Celebration time!!! After the awards no one could have guessed what was to take place. Stanford delivered the most elaborate fireworks I have ever seen in my life followed by a one hour performance by Red Hot Flames. 8000+ spectators stayed back to watch their local act. The Soca King himself, Machel Montano came on after to give an invigorating 2 hour performance with Patrice Roberts and Zan. It was like Carnival all over!! When you thought the show was over at midnight the MC comes on and says we studied long and hard to see what artiste could come on after Machel and keep this crowd here until 2am. Thats right!! The Dancehall King himself, Beenie Man. I told my crew that we could leave after 15 minutes to go to the Coast liming spot because you tell yourself youve seen Beenie before. Well I had to eat my words!! We left when it finished well after 2am!! Beenie Man did what he wanted to that crowd in a performance that I definitely have to rate as one of his best!! We still passed through Coast around 3am but it was dead. The Stanford 20/20 was a TOTAL success and indeed clubs have been warned.... No one throws a party like Allen Stanford!!
Day 4 (Monday):
Beach, beach and more beach!! With our flight out of Antigua at 7:10pm there was really only one thing to do... BEACH!! People just remember I told you to go to Ffryes Bay, Runaway Bay and Sunsail Bay!! Blue water, white sand and fellas, if youre lucky, a few topless chics!
Throughout St. John's the people had their Trini flags in their cars and it was indeed a spectacle to see such a small country embracing our victory. All in all it was a great trip and definitely on the calendar for next year!
Andros for Trini Jungle Juice